#9 Visual/Verbal Relations in Illustrated Children’s Books

April 12, 2018 - 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Ulrich C. Knoepflmacher, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of English

Although all children’s books appeal to a dual readership, picture books are hybrid texts that lure children and grownups as joint participants in the pleasurable experience of an unfolding visual and verbal narrative.
This seminar will examine two picture books and two multi-chapter books authored by writer-illustrators whose creation of different kinds of text-image relationships raises some larger questions. Do pictures merely complement a text or can they offer an altogether different dimension of meaning? When and how do the responses of a child viewer overlap with those of an adult reader? When and how are their responses at odds?  

We shall start with a close, page-by-page analysis of Maurice Sendak’s masterpiece Where the Wild Things Are before we discuss his brilliant but problematic Higglety, Pigglety, Pop!  We shall then turn to two more recent texts: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman and my own Franny, Randy, and The Over-the-Edge Cat Person.  If time permits, we may end with a brief look at samples from earlier writer/illustrators such as Rudyard Kipling and William Blake.